NIRIM (Heb. נִירִים; "Plowed Fields"), kibbutz in southern Israel, in the "Eshkol Region" of the western Negev, affiliated with Kibbutz Arẓi Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir. Originally established as one of the 11 villages founded in the Negev on the night of Oct. 6, 1946, it was, until 1948, the westernmost Jewish settlement in the country and the closest to Egyptian-held Sinai. The founders, Israel-born youth, were joined by pioneers from Hungary and Romania. In the Israeli *War of Independence Nirim was the first Jewish village exposed to a concentrated attack of the invading Egyptian army (May 1948). Although the kibbutz was entirely leveled, Nirim's members held their ground, compelling the enemy to change tactics and advance exclusively through Arab-inhabited terrain while leaving most of the Jewish settlements to the rear intact. After the cessation of hostilities in April 1949, the kibbutz was transferred to a site further northwest on the Gaza Strip border, while the former site was taken over by Nir Yiẓḥak, another kibbutz of Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir. Besides partly intensive farming (field crops, avocado plantations, flowers, poultry, and dairy cattle), the kibbutz also developed organic farming. An electronics factory mainly for farming aids was later closed. The kibbutz is co-owner of Nirlat, a paint factory located at nearby Kibbutz Nir Oz. In the mid-1990s the population was approximately 445, dropping to 365 in 2002. A beautiful mosaic synagogue floor, dating from the Byzantine period, was unearthed in the Nirim fields.
[Efram Orni /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]